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The Great British Airways Loyalty Devaluation

You won’t get a detailed analysis of the recent, very complex, changes to the British Airways Executive Club loyalty programme which will apply from 28 April 2015. It’s not what we do, and enough alternative sources have covered it in substantial detail already.

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However, we have looked at the changes in detail ourselves, and we think it would be remiss of us not to briefly cover this “restructuring”. Sadly, the overriding feeling from us (and the consensus from very well-informed commentators), is that the changes are generally negative for BA flyers. To enable you to make an informed view yourself, we set out a bullet point summary below, and then link to various “further reading” options.

The changes – briefly summarised*

Avios earning

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  • Avios earning rates are now linked to the price paid for the ticket
  • 0.5 Avios per mile flown in cheap Economy (fare classes K, L, M, N, S and V) or a minimum of 250 Avios
  • 0.25 Avios per mile flown in cheapest Economy (fare classes O, G and Q) or a minimum of 125 Avios 
  • Flexible economy fares (Y, B and H) will continue to earn 1 Avios per mile flown
  • Avios rates for Club World/Club Europe and First Class tickets have either stayed the same or increased, depending on the fare category (see above chart)
  • Tier bonus Avios earnings stay the same for Gold members (100% bonus) and Bronze members (25% bonus), but reduce from a 100% to a 50% bonus for Silver members

Reward availability

  • A minimum of two Club World/Club Europe (Business Class) and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller (Economy) reward seats will be available for booking on all BA-operated flights
  • The fare categories in which you can upgrade with Avios will be increased (i.e. fewer fare classes will be restricted from upgrading: only the very cheapest seats). However upgrade costs will increase in line with the “Avios spending” increases noted below. As has always been the case, you will only be able to upgrade by one class.

Tier (status) points

  • The cheapest World Traveller and Euro Traveller (Economy) seats will collect 25% tier points rather than the current 50%.
  • The 70 bonus tier points currently offered on the London City to New York JFK service will be removed.

Avios spending

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  • BA is introducing “peak” and “off peak” dates for Avios redemptions, with off peak flights requiring fewer Avios (see chart above)
  • Reward flights in Club World and First will all increase in Avios cost: the amount of the increase will depend on whether the flight is peak or off peak
  • Euro Traveller and World Traveller (Economy) redemptions will remain the same for peak periods, and require fewer Avios for off-peak flights than currently required for equivalent dates
  • Given what bad value Economy Avios redemptions generally offer, the above two bullet points are a net very bad result for the value traveller
  • Reward flights with BA’s airline partners will continue to be a single year-round Avios price, with the exception of Iberia, which will also offer seasonal pricing (albeit different peak and off peak rates to BA…).

Changes to UK domestic connecting reward flights

  • The free connecting flight to London short-haul flights from regional UK airports will go. To use BA’s example, when booking a reward flight from Manchester to Paris – which requires a connection in London – you are currently charged only for the London to Paris flights. From 28 April, you will be charged for the full journey, including the Manchester to London flights.
  • This is a royal stitch-up of BA passengers who do not live in or around London, and will feasibly see passengers leaving in droves for easyJet, Ryanair and the like.
  • The free UK flight, however, continues to apply to connecting reward flights on long-haul.

Further reading

*Please note that this summary does not purport to cover everything: it covers what we consider to be the key changes to the programme.


2 Comments

  1. I think there are winners and losers, like you said. For me, as someone who generally uses them to fly economy short-haul destinations, I view it as a positive since the changes could have been much worse!

    • euflyer says:

      There are a lot more losers than winners in my book. What’s a real shame it that the key losers appear to be the aspirational travellers, looking to get some real value from their Avios.

      Little doubt that those worst off are this side of the Pond though.

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